Technology department advanced manufacturing lab.  Wilber Hall, SUNY Oswego  10/15/2014


According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, there are more unfilled manufacturing jobs in the US than there have been in 15 years.  The drivers:

  • Companies have invested in new technologies
  • These new technologies require more training and education
  • Until relatively recently, high schools lost focus on technical education in favor of four-year college programs
  • Parents of kids entering the work force tend to believe that while manufacturing is important for our country, it’s not “good enough” for their kids (my translation of the biennial study sponsored by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute).

What do economic developers do now?  Here’s my advice, based on working with hundreds of communities over the years:

  1. Start with an assessment of your region’s current labor force
  2. Determine what future you want for your region, and what type of workforce that future will require
  3. Evaluate the gaps between where you are now and where you want to go
  4. Develop an action plan to get you there

With regard to the second step listed above, so many communities and regions don’t stop to think about “bending the curve” – they just assume their workforce will be more of the same. From my experience, that’s not typically the case, as employers looking to relocate or expand will greatly appreciate a community’s or region’s clarity and input on what kind of companies would be a good fit for their particular mix of assets.

Please contact me at 608.663.9218 if you’re fighting “the war on talent” and have been unsuccessful. Ady Advantage is an expert at seeing through the clutter and prescribing talent solutions. Last year, we released our Talent Toolbox for Economic Developers – a book that shares the stories of various economic developers from around the country who successfully implemented systematic plans to help them overcome their talent challenges. The book is a “toolbox” in the sense that it provides fresh ideas and insights that can be used by others facing similar situations to create meaningful, lasting change. For a copy of the book order form, click here. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to talent strategies, click here.

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